Here’s How NYT Covered Kamala Harris Versus How They Covered Mike Pence

Alexander Drago-Pool/Getty Images/Alex Wong/Getty Images

Shelby Talcott Senior White House Correspondent
Font Size:

The New York Times’ front page coverage of running-mate announcements differed in a few ways from 2016 to 2020.

The newspaper covered President Donald Trump’s pick of Vice President Mike Pence on July 16, 2016 for print. The Times opted not to feature Pence as a main part of the front page, instead putting a small portion of the article about the news in the bottom right hand corner. (RELATED: Kamala Harris In April 2019: ‘I Believe’ Joe Biden’s Accusers)

Featured more prominently that day included news about a coup in Turkey, an update on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and an article about the man behind an attack in France. Pence garnered one of the smallest sections of the front page.

August 12, 2020 saw yet another NYT article about a running mate – this time announcing former Vice President Joe Biden’s choice of Democratic California Sen. Kamala Harris. Notably, the NYT dedicated its entire front page exclusively to multiple articles about Harris.

The paper’s banner for Harris announced the news: “Harris Joins Biden Ticket, Achieving A First.” A photograph of Harris looking into the distance with her arms crossed was prominently featured alongside the paper’s main article, titled: “Political Warrior Shaped By Life In 2 Worlds.”

The two other articles that snagged Wednesday’s front page slot were also about Harris: “Pick Seen as Safe but Energizing,” one read. “Woman of Color in No. 2 Slot of Major Party,” the other article was headlined.

In 2016, the lone front page article about Pence was headlined: “Man In The News: Michael Richard Pence. Unbending Conservative.” This article painted Pence as a man “deeply and proudly out of sync with his times” who “is slow to bend” despite changing times.

The article continued on to suggest Pence was often a man who lost. Not only that, Pence had “struggled to carve out a national reputation beyond his polarizing pursuit of socially conservative causes,” according to the newspaper.

“By the time he was elected to Congress in 2000, after two failed tries, Mr. Pence had missed the Republican revolution led by Newt Gingrich and his scrappy, fiscally conservative acolytes who stormed Washington in 1994,” the 2016 article read. “Nobody, it seemed, had told Mr. Pence that the rebellion was over. He arrived in the House determined to slash federal spending and shrink the role of government.”

“Showing up late, by many accounts, was his fate as governor, too.”

The NYT article on Pence points out his other losses, calling a radio show he hosted “his tether to voters across Indiana and a springboard into the world of national conservatives.” This talk show, according to the paper, “paved the way for his eventual victory in a 2000 race for Congress.”

The 2016 article on Pence points out his failings as well as some controversies, such as abortion laws he has backed. Another controversy, according to the NYT, was his 2015 religious exceptions law.

“After offending gays across the country, enduring a backlash from the state’s business community and undergoing a painfully awkward nationally televised interview in which he struggled to explain the law’s on-the-ground impact, Mr. Pence acknowledged only that he could have better handled the TV encounter,” the article pointed out.

Comparatively, the NYT’s main article about Harris appears to be more positive. Harris, according to this article in The Times, “brings to the race a far more vigorous campaign style than Mr. Biden’s, including a gift for capturing moments of raw political electricity on the debate stage and elsewhere, and a personal identity and family story that many find inspiring.”

“A pragmatic moderate who spent most of her career as a prosecutor, Ms. Harris was seen throughout the vice-presidential search as among the safest choices available to Mr. Biden,” the NYT article reads. “She has been a reliable ally of the Democratic establishment, with flexible policy priorities that largely mirror Mr. Biden’s, and her supporters argued that she could reinforce Mr. Biden’s appeal to Black voters and women without stirring particularly vehement opposition on the right or left.”

The Times did note various instances where Harris, during her own presidential run, called out Biden over some of his past policies – particularly one moment during a debate regarding his past work on busing. (RELATED: Kamala Harris Claims ‘People Are Dying’ Because Of Trump Administration’s ‘Vacuum Of Leadership’)

“In the end, however, Mr. Biden may have come to see the panache Ms. Harris displayed in that first debate as more of a potential asset to his ticket than as a source of lingering grievance,” according to the NYT.

This article props up Harris’ involvement in recent protests regarding police violence. It also takes a dig at Trump, pointing out that he mispronounced her first name and described Harris using the word “nasty.”

“Mispronouncing Ms. Harris’s first name, Mr. Trump also described Ms. Harris as ‘nasty’ for her opposition to the nomination of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, using the kind of harshly derogatory language that he has routinely applied to women,” the NYT reported.

The Times’ largely praised-filled article on Harris adds that her history as district attorney of San Francisco may be an issue with some on the left. It also points out a moment when Democratic Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard demanded an apology from Harris over how many people she prosecuted “for marijuana infractions.”

Despite her history, The Times suggests Harris “likely” will “be embraced” by black voters. Largely, this article paints Harris as a forward-thinking woman who has made history, but could be a future president herself – a stark difference from its 2016 portrayal of Pence, who was reported as a man who often lost as he remained stuck behind the times.